Managing Fears

When it comes to managing fear, it is important to know that there are different types of fears. They can be real, imagined, or perceived.

How does our brain and mind recognize the difference? And how can we understand how fear works?

I think a helpful way to understand fear is to study neuroscience and biological responses.

A local neurologist recently came to our staff gathering and shared some of his knowledge. After exploring his website, I came across a free e-book dedicated to understanding fear and safety.

The article explains how fear is an innate survival response; we are all wired to automatically respond to fearful scenarios. Fear and stress are connected to everyday functions such as breathing, digestion, heart rate, cognition, and perspiration. Our body literally begins to shut off certain activity that is not needed when fleeing or fighting and amps up certain activity that could be needed to fight, flee, or freeze.

Our brain is designed to keep us safe and alive.

Part of the reason our brain may have a difficult time deciding if a fearful scenario is a life-threatening bear or a work meeting is because it is trying to distinguish between perception and reality.

It is trying to process how significant the stakes are and asking that question – Do I need to keep them safe? We may perceive that a work deadline is life-threatening because we are not sure about the potential outcomes.

A key reminder: Fear is not in and of itself bad. Fear can keep us alive. Fear is problematic when it’s improperly applied to experiences.

It is helpful to understand the origins of fear, but next time we will discuss tools and practices for distinguishing between real and perceived fears.

Written by: GROW Staff